• Archi Freak

Postmodern In Short

Postmodernism is the realization that modernism is too modern and numerous to be modern. The realization that the ideals of modernism have changed and what was left is just the bygone aesthetics of the modern era. As the population starts to rebuild in the west, newer and more flexible ideas start to emerge out of the rigid mindset of modernism.

Architects at this point in time can be separated into two categories "White” and “Grey” architects. White architects become associated with the big five, the ones who attempt to address more basic questions of language while Grey’s created a philosophical introduction of their own theory. In fact, this divide may have extended from the divide between the Ecoles. Where one school believed in the teaching of the technique of constructing architecture as a building form the latter firmly believes in the graphic and ideological representation of architecture. Not to say that one is better than the other but it is quite interesting how at this point in time again architecture is split between following the books and off the fringe experimental approaches. Perhaps it is the way how architects function, as a particular architectural philosophy and style becomes overused and turns into a cliche, we get bored and start experimenting on a new form of communication and representation in the hopes of breaking the system.

For Venturi, Architecture becomes disassembled into a set of languages. In a sense, without Venturi, there would be no contemporary architecture as we know today. The drawings in his architecture probably would not be the single biggest mode of representation. Although Venturi did change the way we think about architecture, he, himself, would never have considered himself to be postmodern. As many would believe, it was a derogatory term at that time. As a result, I think venturi unintentionally sparked a new era in learning and teaching architecture that now it has become so ubiquitous that many architecture students wish and is trying to break out of the shadows of Robert Venturi.

Instead of finding new ways of looking into the field of architecture Colin Rowe decides to resituate the assessment of architecture within history and acknowledged history to be an integral part of today’s living. The process of architecture became more and more tied down to historical references and similarities. It is quite evident that postmodernism in terms of Colin Rowe is slowly being defined as having “the presence of the past”. Many can argue that this is not about changing the status quo of architecture or but instead is going further back to restructure modernism.

The fundamental difference between Venturi and Colin Rowe is that of an architect who only looks in front of him and building as a form of representation and while the other looks back on history and tradition so that it became a ferocious battle between tradition and representation. Either way both of their modes of representation are not sufficient enough to define postmodernism nor how modernism differs from postmodernism. While one seeks a complete rejection of the modernist ideals, the other seeks and hopes to keep the modernist dream alive.

In conclusion, the dichotomy between Rowe and Venturi clearly defines what postmodernism is: anything but modern. These pluralist ideas and views helped shape the state of architecture in the 21st century. For better or for worse, it has led to what we believe and where we are today. In fact, it has led to many to still believe that we have never passed the shadow of postmodernism.

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